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Trial Date Set For Gabby Petito Civil Lawsuit, But Laundrie Attorney Still Hopeful For A Dismissal

Steve Bertolino, the attorney for Brian Laundrie's family, said a judge has yet to rule on a motion to dismiss the lawsuit and is giving Gabby Petito's parents a second chance to "make a coherent claim." 

By Jill Sederstrom
Brian Laundrie Gabby Petito 2 Ig

A trial date has been set for a civil suit brought by Gabby Petito’s parents against the parents of her suspected killer Brian Laundrie—but the Laundrie family attorney says that doesn’t guarantee the case will go forward.

The civil jury trial is scheduled to begin on Aug. 14, 2023, according to court documents filed in Sarasota County and obtained by local station WFTX.

But Steven Bertolino, the attorney representing the Laundrie family, told Fox News that is simply a “tentative case schedule” and that a “motion to dismiss” by the Laundries' legal team is still pending.

He said a judge will weigh in on the motion to dismiss once Petito’s parents “file an amended complaint to correct the deficiencies in the first one.”

Bertolino remains confident the civil suit, which he has called “baseless and frivolous” in a previous statement to Oxygen.com, will ultimately be dismissed.

“I believe the judge does not want to rule on a motion to dismiss without giving them an opportunity to make a coherent claim,” he told the news outlet.

Petito’s parents, Nichole Schmidt and Joseph Petito, have alleged in the lawsuit that Laundrie’s parents, Christopher and Roberta Laundrie, knew their son had killed Gabby during a cross country trip to visit the nation’s national parks but remained silent for weeks as her family was desperately searching for the 22-year-old.  

“Christopher Laundrie and Roberta Laundrie exhibited extreme and outrageous conduct which constitutes behavior, under the circumstances, which goes beyond all possible bounds of decency and is regarded as shocking, atrocious, and utterly intolerable in a civilized community,” the lawsuit, obtained by Oxygen.com, alleges.

According to the lawsuit, Laundrie’s parents could have alleviated the Petito family’s “mental suffering and anguish” but chose instead to start “making arrangements for (Brian) to leave the country.” They didn't offer up any evidence in the suit to support that allegation.

Petito disappeared in late August while the couple was camping in Grand Teton National Park, where her body was discovered the next month. Her parents have alleged that Brian killed Gabby on Aug. 27, the same day she had her final communication with her family.

“The cause of her death was blunt force injuries to the head and neck with manual strangulation,” the suit states.

Brian returned to Florida in the couple’s converted camper van on Sept. 1 without his fiancé and then refused to speak with police or the media about her whereabouts.

Laundrie later disappeared himself that same month. His remains were discovered in October in the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park not far from his home. Authorities have said he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

According to the FBI, Laundrie left behind a notebook that claimed responsibility for Petito’s death.

In the motion to dismiss the suit, the Laundrie’s attorneys have argued that Christopher and Roberta were within their constitutional rights.

“While the [Petito-Schmidt families] allege some facts, those facts could never establish a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress because the Laundries’ ‘actions’ were legally permissible, constitutionally protected, not outrageous and do not give rise to any cause of action,” it read.